Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Indian Presidential Election

The election, if necessary, to the office of President of India will be held on July 17, 2017.
 
On November 20, 2016, I wrote a post about how the votes are counted in the US Presidential Election. It is very confusing. Popular vote does not mean a thing. It is all electoral college votes.
 
You thought counting votes for the US President is confusing. Get ready. Counting votes in the Indian Presidential Election is equally confusing. Here is how an Indian President is elected.
 
President of India is elected by an electoral college votes. Members of both houses of Indian Parliament, Members of State Legislative Assemblies and the Union Territories of Delhi and Pondicherry are eligible to vote. There are 776 MPs and 4120 MLAs. But the value (weight) of their votes are different for each state. For example:
 
An MP’s vote is weighted at 708 votes.
 
But an MLA’s vote is differently weighted from State to State. An MLA’s vote from Uttar Pradesh is weighted at 208 votes where as an MLA’s vote from Punjab is weighted at 116 votes, Goa 20, Manipur 18, Uttarakhand 64, etc. Jharkand and Tamil Nadu tie for the second place with the weighted value of 176.
 
How do they arrive at this value (weight)?
 
For an MLA: It is the population of a particular state (divided by 1000) and divided by the number of MLAs.
 
For an MP: It is the total value (weight) of all the MLAs divided by the total number of MPs in both houses.
 
An important point to remember here is the number and value of votes are based on India’s population in 1971. Now it is 2017.
 
They have a reason for still clinging on to the 1971 population.
 
Here is a quote from the internet:
 
"The number and value of votes are based on the population in 1971 rather than the current population, as a result of the 42nd Amendment, and extended by the 84th Amendment, with the intention to encourage family planning programs in the states by ensuring that states are not penalized for lowering their population growth."

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Bucket of Sambar

Whenever I have mentioned in my prior blog posts about Idli and Sambar, I have always mentioned  “bucket” of sambar.  Even today, in Tamil Nadu marriages, all items on the menu – idli, chutney, sambar, rasam, koottu, curry, payasam, and even buttermilk – are served from the buckets.  So the popular saying of “bucket of sambar”.
 
I have eaten in Indian restaurants all over the world including India.  But none of these restaurants serve sambar in a bucket.  They serve sambar in a bowl or a katori. 
Last week I was having dinner in an Indian restaurant in Greensboro, North Carolina.  I ordered a masal dosa.  When they brought the masal dosa with 2 different chutneys and sambar, there was a pleasant surprise, surprise, surprise.  The sambar was served in a small bucket.  This is the first time anywhere in the world I have seen.  Here is the photo.
 

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Poor Kids

A world renowned chef and multi millionaire (from UK), says he gives limited weekly allowance to his kids.  They have to take care of their expenses including their jeans, gym fees, and their own gym trainer fees from among that allowance.
 
Poor kids.
I have already written long time ago about my one-time colleague, Paige P.
Her dad was a billionaire. I don’t know why she came to work in our company. May be the dad wanted her to get experience from a different industry.  I never asked her.
She was a nice girl.  We used to go for lunch all the time.  Once she said she did something wrong when she was a teenager.  Her dad punished her for that.  I asked her what was the punishment.
I was not allowed to drive my BMW for a week.
You poor girl.  What did you do then? Take a taxi or go by bus?
No.  I drove my Mercedes Benz.
Look at these poor kids.  Life is unfair.
PS: Paige anecdote is real. Not an imagination.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Shove Authority

People in India, if they are in-charge of something, they want to shove their authority on you. I am not talking about VIPs. I am talking about ordinary police constables, peons in offices, security guards, and people like that.. They want to show and shove their authority on you.
 
This incident happened recently.
 
I went to an Indian Temple here in California. I parked my car. There were 60 parking spaces. There was not a single car that was parked. Therefore, I deliberately took 2 parking spaces. I turned off the ignition and got down from the car. An Indian lady (in saree) approached me. Here is our conversation:
 
Lady: Do you know you have parked here illegally? (I did not appreciate the tone in which she was communicating with me)
 
I would have said "sorry" if her modulation was civilized.
 
Me: What did you say?
 
Lady: You have parked here illegally. You have taken 2 spaces (It is not against the law in California if you take 2 spaces in a private parking lot. This parking lot was inside the temple and therefore it is a private parking lot.)
 
Me: What is your problem?
 
Lady: How will other cars can park if you take 2 spaces?
 
Me: I am going to pray the God and will be back in 5 minutes. There are 60 parking spaces here. Are you saying these 60 parking spaces will be filled in the next 5 minutes?
 
Lady: What you are doing is illegal.
 
Me: Are you the Police?
 
Lady: Yes, I am
 
(Now I am really angry)
 
Me: Show me your Police Badge.
 
Lady: I am not a real police. I am temple management,. You come to my office and I will show you my temple badge.
 
Me: I came to pray my God for 5 minutes. I did not come here to see your temple badge. If you want to show me your temple badge, run back to your office and bring your badge within 5 minutes. Now get off my face.
 
I walked away.
 
Yes, I agree by taking 2 spaces I was discourteous. I did not follow the proper etiquette. But did not break any law.
 
(Side Bar: While writing this blog post, I just remembered reading an article in the Wall Street Journal long time ago. They were interviewing an Under Secretary in the Finance Ministry for the Government of India in New Delhi. During the interview, he said:
 
"I live in RK Puram. I go by bus to my office. I don’t have any money during the last 5 days of the month. Me and my family struggle to eat. But, in my office, I can make JRD Tata wait outside my office for 15 minutes. I am proud of that."
 
So much for proud and power.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

JFK

If John F. Kennedy was alive he would be 100 years old today.
 
 
He was born on May 29, 1917, in a multi millionaire’s family. The Kennedys were considered America’s “royalty”.
 
He graduated from Harvard University. He was also a member of the University Swimming Team.
 
During World War 2, he volunteered to serve in the United States Navy. As a VVIP’s son (his millionaire dad was US Ambassador to England), he could have had many other opportunities but he chose to serve the country by joining the US Navy during World War 2.
 
He was a commander of a Patrol Torpedo Board in the Pacific Ocean. His boat was destroyed by the Japanese Navy. He and his team were in the middle of the ocean for 2 days and they finally swam many miles to come ashore. He saved all his men and personally carried 2 of the wounded along with him to the shore. Here is a quote:
 
On June 12, 1944, while he was in the hospital recuperating from back surgery, Kennedy received the Navy and Marine Corps medal for courage, endurance and excellent leadership [that] contributed to the saving of several lives and was in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.”
 
And then, he was elected as President of the United States in 1961, at the age of 43. He was the youngest to be elected as President at that time. His inaugural speech is still considered one of the best speeches of all time in the world. The sentence I liked most from that speech was:
 
And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.
 
My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.
 
Another of his speech before I finish. His speech about life is unfair.
 
“There is always inequity in life. Some men are killed in a war and some men are wounded, and some men never leave the country, and some men are stationed in the Antarctic and some are stationed in San Francisco. It’s very hard in military or in personal life to assure complete equality. Life is unfair.”
 
He was assassinated and died on November 22, 1963, at the age of 46.
 
Not just USA but the whole world mourned.
 
PS: During the Chinese aggression against India in 1962, India was losing and China was gaining.  At the request of Indian Government, Kennedy sent the America troops to India.  Immediately, China stopped the aggression and withdrew.
 
PPS: There is a movie about his World War 2 Navy heroics.  The name of the movie is PT109.
 
PPPS: I also acknowledge he had many weak points.  But today is his 100th Birthday.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Donald and Melania

Trump and his wife Melania are on their first foreign tour on Air Force One. American press and television media are left wing limousine liberals. They always watch any sign of trouble between the Donald and Melania. Finally they found one. Melania appeared to avoid holding hands with her husband,. Here is the video clip:
 
 
Here are my thoughts:
 
I am not a big supporter of Trump. But I am against these television and news media.
 
Don’t they have any other news in the world to cover?
 
22 innocent people died in Manchester due to a terrorist attack. Don’t you think that should be the headline news?
 
Why don’t they scrutinize Bill and Hillary Clinton relationship?
 
It is not an easy graceful walk down the stairs of a 747 with 6” heels.
 
Looks like high school newspaper gossip column.
 
Then people complain Trump is getting lot of free publicity.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Page From The Past

I was watching an old Hollywood movie, The World of Suzie Wong starring William Holden and Nancy Kwan.
 
My thoughts went back.
 
My wife and I once took a vacation to Hong Kong. We landed in Hong Kong. We booked our hotel in Kowloon. You have to take a ferry to go from Hong Kong to Kowloon. We were enjoying the ferry ride and the beauty of the Hong Kong harbor.
 
At that moment I told my wife:
 
Lalitha, do you know this is the exact place where William Holden met Suzie Wong.
 
She asked me William Holden met who. I then knew she was not familiar with the movie The World of Suzie Wong.
 
It is a story about an American architect turned artist Robert Lomax (William Holden) meeting Suzie Wong (Nancy Kwan) in a ferry ride from Hong Kong to Kowloon. At first Suzie Wong tells him that she is from a very rich family and she does not talk to strangers. Later William Holden finds out she is a poor prostitute with a small child at home. He falls in love with her and the story goes on.
 
This movie is the most different, tender and touching love story. I have given below the first 9 minutes of the movie where they meet for the first time. Please watch.
 

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Carry On, But Remember

Menaka Gandhi has initiated a program to file sexual harassment complaint online. I applaud her. But those who investigate such cases must be very careful.
 
I want to share a real life story. The following anecdote is not a fiction.
 
Long time ago, in our company, there was a girl who was a first line manager. Her supervisor was a second line manager. One day, this girl, first line manager, filed a case within the company hierarchy alleging “sexual harassment” against her male second line manager.
 
The company wanted to avoid this case going to a public litigation because it will be bad for the company’s image and PR purpose. So the company decided to settle the case.
 
Mean time, the Second Level manager resigned his job. The first line manager, who complained, got an excellent cash compensation for her “suffering”. She also quit the company immediately.
 
They both got married a week later.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Mankading

Cricket is a religion in India. Everyone in India knows minute details about that game. I thought I also knew. But only last week I realized I am not that much expert on cricket. Why?
 
Indians are familiar with cricketing terms like boundary, sixer, beamer, googly, doosra, and even LBW. Oh, I forgot about the Silly Point. I don’t know if there is a smart point also. But have you heard of a term called “Mankading”. I have not. Now I know. Probably you are aware of that term.
 
This term is named after the famous Indian cricketer Vinoo Mankad. His 100th birthday is this month – April. He was one of the best Indian all-rounder. When anyone mentions Mankad in conversation, I immediately think of his world record first wicket partnership of 413 runs with Pankaj Roy against New Zealand in Madras (Chennai).

Mankading is the act of a bowler running out the batsman at the non-striker’s end as he is backing up rather than actually bowling the ball. According to cricket rules, it is legal and the bowler is permitted to so this. Even though it is allowed under cricket rules, it is considered an “unsportsman like conduct” if a bowler does that. As per cricket etiquette, the bowler is supposed to warn the batsman.
 
Vinoo Mankad used this tactic for the first time in cricket history during India’s tour of Australia in 1947. There was a lot of controversy about his action. Very few supported him. Don Bradman was one of them. So the term Mankading is named after Vinoo Mankad.
 
I personally support mankading. Otherwise, the non striker may stand half way down the pitch and score easily a tight single.
 
PS: To my US Readers. This is somewhat similar to “pick off” in baseball.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

No Clue

Nolan Ryan, one of the greatest professional baseball players of all time, now retired, was in a ball park watching a baseball game. The gentleman who sat next to him did not notice Ryan. But he was wearing Nolan Ryan’s famous jersey number 34 with his name on it. Probably he was not even aware of who his seat mate was.
 
                                           (Courtesy: Yahoo.  Ryan on the right.)
 
This happens to me also all the time. People have no clue who I am.
 
Once I was watching a cricket match in the Wankhede Stadium.  Someone pointed out to me that the guy who was sitting next to me was Sachin Tendulkar. I turned around and said “hello”. He replied with a “hello”. I asked him “how about an autograph?”. He said “sure”. I then signed my name in a piece of paper and gave it to him.
 
PS: This is supposed to be a humorous post.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Interesting Person

I recently met a lady from Canton, China. It is now known as Guangzhou. She said she is 54 years old. Looks like 24. Her physical fitness is like that of a 14 year old gymnast. She is 5 ft tall and says she weighs 106 lbs.
 
She speaks English but broken English.
 
She informed me she is a teacher and has two children. (She did not tell me and I did not ask about her husband). She also said she exercises 6 hours a day including walking and cycling.
 
She was more interested to know about India and the Indians than America and the Americans.
 
Here are some her questions to me. (I am not giving my answers to her because it is not important, me think)
 
Do I read bible?
 
Do I go to church?
 
Why I am not wearing a head-dress (turban)?
 
Do I eat at home sitting on the floor and everyone eats from the same plate?
 
Is it true women wait for men to finish eating before they could eat?
 
Is it true, if there is no leftover food after men finish eating, women go to bed hungry without eating?
 
Do I eat with my fingers?
 
Do I know how to us a chopstick?
 
Do I speak Hindu language at home?
 
How do I practice my culture in this country?

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Don’t Get Mad, Get Even

(This is purely a tongue-in-cheek post)
 
I often quote these words from the late Robert Kennedy:  Don’t get mad, get even.
 
In the recent times I have read in many Indian newspapers VIPs (including MPs and Ministers) slapping public servants if things don’t go their way. These public servants include airline employees and police officers.
 
Then these VIPs express “regret”. Remember not an apology but just a “regret”.
 
Can the public do the same? Slap the VIPs and express regret afterwards. No. They cannot do such things. The strong arm of the law will put them in jail for many years.

I have a few ideas about how to get even with these VIPs.  Flight Attendants can do a lot in this regard. FAs, please don't resort to your usual tactic of getting revenge - spitting on the food served to that VIP or picking up the dropped food from the floor and serving it to that VIP.  In these instances, you will have the satisfaction of getting revenge but that VIP will never know.

Here are 2 ideas by which the VIP will realize that someone is taking revenge on him/her.
 
First idea is while these VIPs are flying. This involves precise coordination between the pilot and the flight attendant. When the plane is at the 35000 feet level the captain should turn on the “fasten seat belt” sign indicating a bumpy weather. The flight attendant should be bringing the coffee in the aisle. When she is near that VIP, the captain should “jerk” the plane for a nano-second. The flight attendant should simultaneously pour the hot coffee on the VIP’s head. And then say:
 
Oops. Very sorry. Bad weather. Turbulence.

If this "turbulence" happens to him/her more than once, then the VIP will get the picture.
 
The second idea is a much better one. We have read news items how foreign diplomats get away with any crime claiming diplomatic immunity. All we have to do is to find a diplomat who will accept a bribe. There are plenty of them. Have that diplomat beat the heck out of this VIP and then claim diplomatic immunity. No one can do nothing to that diplomat. And, he does not even have to “regret”.
 
You have any ideas?

As the (in)famous J. R. Ewing said revenge is the single most satisfying feeling in the world.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Happily Married

There is a robotic engineer in China. Because of China’s “one child” policy, there are more men in China than women. This engineer was unable to find a bride to marry. Therefore, he decided to marry a robot he built. He married this robot in a simple ceremony attended by his mother and friends.
 
                                                      (Courtesy: The Guardian)
 
I want to wish them a happy married life. But, ever since I read this news item, I have these nagging questions in my mind:
 
Where are they headed for their honeymoon?
 
Is there a prenuptial agreement?
 
Was this consensual?
 
Will they adhere to one child policy of China?
 
Is she high maintenance?
 
Will she be included in his company health insurance?
 
Is she a trophy wife?
 
In case of divorce, who gets the home?

Joint Bank Account?
 
Will she get widow’s pension in case he dies?
 
Will she get social security based on her husband’s work record?
 
Can he claim deduction for her in his income tax return?
 
I have so many other questions. Since this is a family blog, I will stop here.  If you think of any other question, please let me know.  Thanks.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

A Sentence

It is always said "A picture is worth a thousand words".
 
I was watching a Hollywood Movie. I heard a sentence. It stuck in my mind. I wonderd how well her sufferings and bad experience were brought out by this one sentence.
 
A divorced couple was talking:
 
He:  I want you back with me.
 
She:  I am with someone else.
 
He:  Does he make you laugh?
 
She:  He does not make me cry.
 
The movie was continuing. I was lost in my thoughts how many stories and anecdotes that one line (He does not make me cry) is trying to tell us.
 
A sentence is worth a thousand stories?
 
What you think?

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Too Late, Mr. Trump

Today, March 15, 2017, I received an invitation to "attend and participate in the Inauguration of Donald John Trump as President of the United States of America" on Friday, the 20th of January 2017.  Please see blow.

 
Next week when I meet him for lunch, I will ask him to fire the US Postal Service.*
 
* Satire

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Airhead

A short while ago I went to Seattle. It was pouring rain there. After landing in Seattle at 9 PM, I went to the car rental place. There was only one girl in the counter. I finished the written formalities. I then informed her I would like to have a foreign automobile and not an American car.
 
She said “sorry we don’t carry any foreign automobiles. We only have American cars. That too only 2 different makes. Toyota and Nissan. Which one would you like”.
 
I said OK. I don’t have any preference.
 
Reminds of the guy who went to a restaurant and demanded: I would like to have some good American food. Do you have any pizza or burrito?
 
Hey, we are proud Americans.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Comfort Food

A few weeks ago on a Saturday. It was 3 in the afternoon. Raining. Cold.
 
Did not feel hungry. But wanted to have some comfort food. Felt lazy to cook anything,
 
Opened and looked in the Fridge. There was not any cooked and stored food available.
 
Opened the freezer section. Ahh. I found one. Onion Pakoda I made about 3 weeks ago and I have stored about 20 pakodas in a freezer bag.
 
Took the bag out. Turned on the oven to 350 degrees. Wrapped the pakodas in an aluminium foil and placed inside the oven for 30 minutes.
 
Bingo. Hot crispy pakodas were ready. Ate all of them with a hot cup of tea.
 
Cooked food can be stored in the freezer section up to 3 months. It has to be stored in an air tight freezer box or freezer bag. Some say we should not put yogurt based gravy (Punjabi Kadhi or South Indian Morekuzhambu) in a freezer. But, to me, it works out OK. No probs.
 
Until 1 year ago, we stored the food in the freezer section only when we were getting ready to go on a vacation. We stored some cooked dishes to take it out and eat during the first few days after our return from vacation. But now, me in charge of cooking, I use the freezer a lot.
 
One word of caution: Please do not try this (storing food in the freezer section up to 3 months) in those countries where there is voltage fluctuation and/or frequent power cut.
 
PS: Only after eating all the pakodas I realized I did not take a picture to show them here.

PPS: Is the plural for pakoda is pakodas?

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Ahh. Romantic

5th Grade Science Teacher proposing to 5th  Grade  Math Teacher in front of the class.
 

                                                             (courtesy: youtube)

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Indian Ingenuity

Just read the news item that the Air India Flight crew staying at a London Hotel, were caught with filling their lunch boxes with buffet food.
 
The Hotel alleged that "some AI crew members regularly come down for breakfast with empty boxes into which they fill food items from the buffet, presumably to eat later".
 
What a way to save their layover allowances.
 
Recently I had a visitor from India. He came by the Air India 15 hour non stop flight from Delhi to San Francisco. He told me that the drinks cart on a 15 hour flight came only once thru the aisles, and that too just before landing.
 
What are they doing with those miniature bottles? Hope they use it among their family and friends and not sell them.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Focaccia Bread

Went into the City of San Francisco day before yesterday. Long Long time ago we used to live within that city’s limit. I was driving by the Coit Tower. It is a 210 feet tower built to beautify the city of San Francisco.
 
I was passing through the “no name” bakery store. (We always called it that way because there was no signboard in front of the bakery.) It was 2 pm in the afternoon. I was pleasantly surprised to see the “Open” sign on the front door. I parked the car in the no parking zone and ran into that store.
 
Here is a side bar. This bakery is located in the Italian neighborhood. They are world famous for their focaccia bread. Of course, focaccia bread is available in many other places. But no comparison with the one made in this bakery.  Focaccia bread from this bakery will melt in your mouth.  They used to open at 6 am in the morning. There will be a line of about 40 people (mainly Italians) waiting for the bakery to open. All their breads will be sold out by 8 am.
 
Originally they sold only two types of bread. Plain and Pizza. When I went there this time, I noticed they were selling 12 different types of bread. I bought a plain and a pizza for the sake of nostalgia.
 
                                                        L Plain and R Pizza
 
When we have parties or get-togethers at home, we used to serve this bread as one of the hors d'oeuvres. Guests (children and adults) would go crazy.
 
PS: Someone told me it is named Liguria Bakery.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Think Before Speak

Madonna (Courtesy: Yahoo)
 
There was a Women’s March on Washington on Saturday to protest against President Donald Trump. One of the speakers was the famous singer Madonna. During her speech she said she thought about “blowing up the White House”. White House is the place where the President and his family lives.
 
The Secret Service whose job is to protect the President of the United States and his family is not amused. They said they are going to make a thorough investigation of her claim.
 
The moment she heard that the secret service is on her case, the roaring lion turned into a pussycat.
 
Now she issued a statement as follows:
 
'I spoke in metaphor and I shared two ways of looking at things - one was to be hopeful, and one was to feel anger and outrage, which I have personally felt. However, I know that acting out of anger doesn't solve anything. And the only way to change things for the better is to do it with love.'
 
So it was a metaphor. When she is in trouble with the Secret Service, she starts to back peddle immediately. Not so courageous after all.
 
You have a right to be angry and outrage at the President. You scold him. You ridicule him. You even make fun of him. But don’t ever threaten his life.
 
I think the Secret Service should make an example out of her. Otherwise, anyone can threaten the President of the United States and claim it was only a metaphor. Some crazy may even take up on Madonna’s thoughts. Hope it never happens.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Honorary Doctorate Degree

I have read many blog posts during the last few weeks about Ms. Jayalalithaa. All of them addressed her as Dr. Jayalalithaa. Many leaders, actors, and others who were condoling her passing away, addressed her as Dr, Jayalalithaa. Watched them in Youtube.
 
Her arch rival (or should I call her bête noire) in Tamil Nadu is always addressed as Dr. Karunanidhi.
 
I was wondering which medical school these people attended. Ms. Jayalalithaa was a high school graduate. Mr. Karunanidhi did not even enter high school. They both were given honorary doctorate degree from some university.
 
According to the book, Honor & Respect, the Official Guide to Names, Titles & Forms of Address, recipients of honorary doctorates are not entitled to be addressed as Dr. except at the granting university.
 
I don’t know why these important well known people are given honorary doctorate degrees. They don’t need this degree to advance their career. Funny thing is you don’t even need to be a human being to get an honorary doctorate degree. In 1996, Southampton College in New York awarded an honorary doctorate degree to Kermit the Frog.
 
Hope the Indian politicians who are given honorary doctorate do not start wearing stethoscope around their neck.
 
Hope they do not compel the party members to come to them if they need medical advice or any surgical procedure.
 
It is also illegal to use the Padma awards (Padmashri, Padma Bhushan, etc.) as a title in front of one's name.  But almost everyone in India who received these awards are addressed with these titles.  I have seen many many tamil movies "starring Padmashri Sivaji Ganesan" (title credit at the beginning of these movies).